Roaming the Southwest Day 1: Overview and Getting There

Overview

Welcome! My first series of posts for this blog will chronicle a recent roadtrip of the American Southwest. We begin on Thanksgiving Day 2017 in Phoenix, AZ and meandering through Sedona, the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and the slot canyons of Page. From there’s we’ll cross into Utah to visit Zion National Park, and finally Las Vegas and the journey home.

Taking a trip like this in late-November is a little risky weather-wise because it can get quite cold and even snow in the region, but we lucked out with very mild weather and the crowds were much less than peak summer season.

Now you might think that with a name like travel4brews, these posts will be chock full of craft brewery reviews, and normally you would be correct! But this trip was a little different because we awoke early every single day and went hiking which was at odds with gratuitous beer consumption, but I promise you readers that I’ll make it up to you on a different trip. Okay, so onward…

Getting There

The trip began when my longtime girlfriend Colleen and I drove about two hours from our home on the west coast of Florida over to my parents’ house in Miami to celebrate Thanksgiving. After dinner, we left our vehicle in their garage and took an Uber to MIA to catch our late flight to Phoenix since my parents don’t like driving at night.

I should mention that outbound, we flew American Airlines economy class non-stop, which we booked using 7500 British Airways Avios and $5.60 each. Although Avios are often maligned because of the sometimes high fees associated with using them, they can be very useful in certain instances like this.

7500 points is way less than the 12,500 points that American’s own AAdvantage program charges for the exact same award flight. Also, Avios is transfer partners with both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. So if you presently have points with either of those reward credit cards, you can turn them into Avios. And occasionally, a transfer bonus is offered to sweeten the deal.

Since I’m fairly tall, I normally dread economy class on flights longer than a couple hours, but luckily, we were upgraded to Main Cabin Extra which made the situation more tolerable. On the recommendation of a friend, I watched “Curb Your Enthusiam” for the first time and wound up binge watching a bunch of episodes which passed the time quickly. Sorry, I was too lazy from turkey tryptophan and red wine to take any photos from this flight.

Car Rental

On the ground again, we grabbed a shuttle to the centralized rental car center (like in Las Vegas) and proceeded to the Alamo kiosks to check in. I tried but was unable to check in online earlier due to using a coupon. Unfortunately, the kiosk wouldn’t recognize my drivers license so we couldn’t check in that way either and the staffed counter was closed for the evening!

After ten minutes of wandering around the parking garage and ranting like a lunatic, we managed to locate a human from Alamo. Since they were very low on cars, especially cars which could be driven out-of-state, we got upgraded several classes to a premium-class Chrysler 300C.

Chrysler 300C Rental Car
Our ride for the next 10 days.

After a short drive, we arrived at the Hyatt Place Phoenix Airport hotel and promptly crashed out since it was now after 3am East Coast time.